Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hey Fletch … Is it legal in California to have a concealed gun in a church with permission from the church leaders? Is it different with or without a CCW?

DRF—You are hitting a hot topic here. Here is an article to read: Concealed Carry in Churches. It contains a chart of the states where it is legal to carry a gun with a concealed weapon permit … and California is in that list. Here’s another article to consider, from an expert on the XPastor site: Concealed Weapons In Church.

Both articles give plenty of caution and concern. Few people are skilled at using a weapon in a crisis situation. Where will the stray shots go? What is the backdrop behind the bullets … are there people present there or a thin wall that leads to a kids’ classroom? A huge issue is how will police know the difference between an active shooter and a congregant who is defending themselves.

I strongly suggest that churches carefully develop plans to work through active shooter situations. Brotherhood Mutual, an insurance industry leader for churches, has an excellent book to help churches assess and train for security issues: The Church Safety Security Guidebook. Let me ask Mike Kramer, Manager of Casualty Claims at Brotherhood Mutual, for some expert advice in this area. 

Response from Mike Kramer—Churches need to protect their people, and at the same time, minister to the broken and hurting. For a safety and security program to fit within a church, it must function as a ministry of the church. That said, a safety and security mindset does not happen overnight. It takes time and a team of people who are passionate about creating a program that is focused on the ministry of the church. The framework to get started is: 1) Engage leadership, 2) Assess your needs, 3) Make key decisions, 4) Form a Team, and 5) Create a plan. Regarding allowance or use of weapons within your framework, coordination within the church and with authorities who would respond to an incident requires effective communication and management.